Council discusses new jail, Pledge and prayer

HAMILTON - The Hamilton City Council discussed the possibility of a new jail facility for the county during its Wednesday, July 10 work session.
The county commission is ready to move forward with plans for a new jail facility, which would likely include a court complex.
“What judicial system?” asked councilwoman Tammy Lewis Williams. “Are we talking about moving the court from the courthouse?”
“That’s what’s in discussion,” said city attorney Scott Hunt. “That’s not a firm decision, so it’s not ironclad.”

 

County to apply for DA, Drug Task Force grants

HAMILTON -  The Marion County Commission unanimously approved  two grant applications for the 25th Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s office and the Drug Task Force during the regular meeting on Monday, July 8, in Hamilton.
The grant for the District Attorney’s office will go toward the salary and operating expenses for the assistant D.A. who handles domestic violence cases.
The grant for the drug task force will be used for payroll and various equipment and administrative costs.

 

NWA, JR named ‘Most Improved’ newspapers


The Journal Record’s editorial staff received two second-place statewide awards in “Most Improved” and “Best Local News Coverage” categories in the 2019 Alabama Press Association Media Awards contest. Shown are (from left) staff writer and photographer Michael E. Palmer, news editor Scott Johnson, staff writer Louis Mellini and managing editor Matthew Puckett.

HAYLEYVILLE - Two newspapers owned by Haleyville-based Mid-South Newspapers— the Northwest Alabamian and the  Journal Record—were recognized as being the most improved publications statewide.­
(Mid-South Newspapers also owns the Fayette County newspaper, the Times-Record, and the Pickens County Herald in Carrollton.)
The Alabama Press Association (APA) held its summer convention on Saturday, June 29, at the Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach, where the winners of the 2019 APA Media Awards (AMA) contest were announced.

Council discusses plans for old city hall

HAMILTON - The Hamilton City Council discussed options for the old city hall building during its work session on Wednesday, June 26.
The old city hall currently serves as the police station and will soon house a West Alabama TV Cable office on July 25.
The building, located at 422 2nd St. SW, across from Hamilton High School, has seen better days, according to the city council.

 

Guin votes to stay in C3

GUIN - The Guin City Council voted unanimously to remain in the C3 Economic Development Alliance (EDA) of Northwest Alabama during its Monday, July 1, meeting.
The C3 is a marketing alliance of three counties—Marion, Fayette and Lamar counties—and certain towns within those counties, that markets the region to businesses and industries looking to locate or relocate.
Guin Mayor Max Maddox opened the discussion by noting that the council voted to pay the $10,000 membership dues in 2017 and 2018.
Councilman Bobby Bellew made a motion to pay the dues.

Official closing date set July 31

HAMILTON - Officials with Alabama Power have announced that the Hamilton business office’s closing date has been set for Wednesday, July 31.
Initially, information released by the power company only said the Hamilton office would be closed by Aug. 30.
Tuscaloosa-based Alabama Power Western Division Public Relations officer Danielle Kimbrough confirmed with the Journal Record on Monday, July 1, that the July 31 closing date had been decided upon.

Airport receives $400,000 grant

HAMILTON - The Marion County-Rankin Fite Airport in Hamilton will receive $474,166 as a part of the state-wide $9.7 million Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grants awarded by the Department of Transportation.
The grant will go towards construction of the taxiway at the airport which is located on Airport Rd off of Military St South in Hamilton.
U.S. Senator Richard Shelby made the announcement on Tuesday, July 2, stating that the grants will significantly aid development projects in local airports across the state.

 

Tour coming to Hamilton City Hall Aug. 1-Sept. 23


Alabama Plein Air Artist Director Sharon Gates paints during an open air session in Gulf Shores.

HAMILTON - The “Alabama Then & Now 1819-2019” art exhibit by the Alabama Plein Air Artist will be stationed in Hamilton beginning next month in celebration of Alabama’s Bicentennial year.
The artists will be displaying their “Alabama Then & Now” collection which is a commemorative and educational art exhibition of 30 original paintings.
The exhibit will be hosted in the Hamilton City Hall lobby area from Aug. 1 - Sept. 23.

New law requires notices for Medicaid estate recovery

HAMILTON -  Alabama Medicaid will likely increase recovery claims against estates.
A new law will require estate  claim notices be mailed directly to Medicaid in a measure which Alabama lawmakers hope will better enable the state agency to recover healthcare funds spent on individuals.
Marion County Probate Judge Paige Vick told the Journal Record that under the new law passed during the 2019 Legislative Session, estate claims opened after Sept. 1 of this year will be required to mail notices to the state Medicaid agency.

First Fridays returns Aug. 2


The Yellow Hammers performed during the Hamilton Area Chamber of Commerce’s First Fridays event held on Friday, May 3, in downtown Hamilton. Shown performing are (from left) Conner Nix, Colby Nix and Cody Bass.

HAMILTON - The Hamilton Area Chamber of Commerce will be hosting its final “First Fridays” downtown shopping event on Friday, Aug. 2.
The chamber’s final First Friday’s event was originally scheduled for Friday, June 7. However, it was cancelled due to rainy weather.
The final summer event will take place from 7-9 p.m. with local and satellite vendors setting up booths lining the city square and downtown businesses extending their usual hours to host shoppers.

Frustrations arise amid new gas tax setup

HAMILTON -  The Marion County Commission voted 3-2 in favor of reallocating funds received from gas taxes after a heated debate during its regular session meeting on Monday, June 24, at the commission office in Hamilton.
Before the reallocation was approved, each of the five districts were receiving an even 20% each, a motion approved in 1971. The new reallocation changes that — Districts 1, 2 and 3 will receive 22% and Districts 4 and 5 will receive 17%.

Four injured in two-vehicle wreck


Emergency personnel tend to an injured victim after a two vehicle wreck on Highway 129 in Winfield on Monday, June 17.

WINFIELD - Two people remain in critical condition at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, Miss., after a two-vehicle wreck at 2 p.m. on Highway 129 at Marion County Road 38 in Winfield on Monday, June 17. 
According to information released by the Winfield Police Department, Gregory Monroe Bourland, Brilliant, driving a green 2007 Chevrolet Uplander van, was pulling out of the Cedar Landing Restaurant parking lot when the vehicle was struck by a 1998 Mercury Mountaineer driven by Denita Monique McCollum, Fayette County. 

Local deer farmers seek more research into CWD


Deer farmers Brock Palmer (left) and Kevin Armstrong are seen here at Armstrong’s deer farm on Tuesday, June 25.

HAMILTON - When most outdoorsmen think of the fall hunting season, they think of pleasant days spent in the woods hunting with friends and family. But for a few local deer farmers, the upcoming hunting season brings fear and trepidation and thoughts of the destruction of their livelihood.
“It’s scary, it really is scary,” said deer farmer Kevin Armstrong.  

North Fork Creek Bridge project complete


The new bridge over Northfork Creek between Hackleburg and Hamilton is now open to traffic, rendering travel somewhat safer. The original bridge was built in 1931 and reconstructed in 1982. Over the years a number of deaths resulted from the traffic accidents that officials attributed to the terrain and design of the old bridge. The new bridge is wider and straighter. For a comlete story see page 6A.

HACKLEBURG -  The project to make the journey to and from Hackleburg safer and easier is now coming to an end.
After a slight delay, W.S. Neal of Montgomery, who was awarded the building contract in April 2018, has completed the bridge running over North Fork Creek.

Education tax drops for second month

HAMILTON - Marion County’s sales tax for education has now tracked its second month in lower collections.
Marion County Superintendent of Education Ann West told the Marion County Board of Education during its meeting on Tuesday, June 11, that the county collected $129,983 in May—$4,0734 less than the previous year.
“For some reason, we were down again,” West said.
The collection was $18,000 lower than the April tax collection, when $148,082 was recorded. April also recorded lagging sales tax figures.

Hackleburg ready to celebrate Independence Day

HACKLEBURG -  The Hackleburg Town Council announced that it will be hosting the town’s annual  Fourth of July celebration on Thursday, July 4, during a regular session meeting on Monday, June 24, at the Hackleburg Town Hall.
The event will begin at noon and will feature live music, arts, crafts, free swimming, inflatables for children, vendors, karaoke, a parade and a fireworks display.
The Hackleburg pool will be open from noon- 8 p.m. and will be free to use for those attending the event.

 

Lunch accounts now fundable online

HAMILTON - Avoiding that emergency trip to bring a student lunch money is looking easier. 
The Marion County Board of Education voted during its monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 11, to enter into a contract with Pams Lunchroom of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., a company that supports credit and debit card payments for school-related expenses.
Marion County Superintendent of Education Ann West said the service will enable parents and guardians to fund students’ lunchroom accounts remotely.

Grandview Drive bridge finally open


The new Grandview Drive bridge opened Tuesday, June 18, concluding a six-year process. Shown inspecting the bridge are (from left) Hamilton councilors Herb Winsett and Gene Sanderson, Hamilton Mayor Bob Page and councilors Wade Sullins and Tami Lewis Williams. (Not shown is councilman Bobby Joe Irvin.)

HAMILTON - Closing a six-year process, the bridge on Grandview Drive has finally been completed.
Hamilton Mayor Bob Page received a letter from the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) on Monday, June 17, approving the bridge for use. 
Page opened the letter during the Hamilton City Council meeting that night. The bridge was officially opened the next day, Tuesday, June 18.
“We can use this bridge!” Page rejoiced.

 

Career Center to hold training information seminar

HAMILTON -  The Hamilton Career Center will be hosting a Training Information Seminar on Tuesday, July 9, at the center on the Hamilton Campus of Bevill State Community College.
The seminar will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 10 a.m. Presentations will include information on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and Individual Training Accounts (WIOA/ITA) information, career exploration, the college admissions process, Labor Market information and Free Application of Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)/Financial Aid information.

Firefighters association votes to move repeater


The Marion County Firefighters Association held its monthly meeting Thursday night, June 27, at Bama-Q Pit & Grill in Hamilton.

HAMILTON - The Marion County Firefighters Association voted to approve a measure to relocate its Hackleburg repeater during its regular meeting on Thursday, June 27 at Bama-Q Pit & Grill in Hamilton. 
A repeater is a radio tower that allows firefighters’ handheld radios and the radios in their trucks to communicate at a longer range. 

System purchasing 686 Chromebooks, new buses

Hamilton - The Marion County School System will reach its strategic goal of one-to-one technology during the 2019-2020 school year.
The Marion County Board of Education agreed to purchase 686 Chromebook laptops and 28 charging carts during its Tuesday, June 11, meeting.
Marion County Superintendent of Education Ann West said that the new purchases will complete the system’s strategic plan of providing each county student with a Chromebook.
The county school system has been incrementally purchasing Chromebooks for the last three years

 

2018-2019 free or reduced lunches

Marion County Schools and Winfield City Schools have announced their policies for free and reduced-price meals for children served in schools under the National School Lunch Program and/or School Breakfast Program. 
Local school officials have adopted household size and income criteria for determining eligibility. (The price information is found on the accompanying chart on this page.)
If your total current household income is within the limits listed above, your children may be eligible for either free or reduced-price meals.

Winkler is crowned Miss Hamilton 2020


Shown (from left) in their gowns are Ashlyn Winkler (Miss Hamilton), Samantha Hennings (Miss Outstanding Teen) and Blakeney Tibbs (Miss Hamilton Rising Star).

HAMILTON - Ashlyn Winkler has been crowned as the new Miss Hamilton 2020 during the annual pageant. 
Winkler is from Dora and attends the University of Montevallo. She majors in speech-language pathology, which correlates to her platform statement, “Shining a Light on Autism Acceptance.”
Samantha Hennings became the newly-crowned Miss Outstanding Teen 2020. Hennings is from Springville and is a junior at Victory Chrisitan School. Her platform is “Just Breathe,” which helps to bring a light to mental illness, but more specifically, anxiety and depression.

Hamilton senior attends leadership congress in nation’s Capitol


Brennon Ballard (right), 17, a senior at Hamilton High School traveled to the National Student Leadership Congress in Washington, D.C., from June 8-14. Upward Bound coordinator Donna Swinney is shown dropping Ballard off as he departs for the trip.

HAMILTON - A rising Hamilton High School senior was one of 180 students nationwide invited to the National Student Leadership Congress (NSLC) in June. 
Brennon Ballard, 17, son of Jessica Parker and Christopher Ballard, traveled to Washington, D.C., during June 8-14 to attend the conference on an all-expense paid trip.
Ballard was selected to attend the trip through the Bevill State Community College-Hamilton Campus Upward Bound program after submitting an application and a written essay.

100 deadliest days

Hamilton - Fun and sun traditionally fill the 100 summer days between Memorial Day and Labor Day, but new statistics prove that, for teenagers, they are also days of death.  
The number of teens killed in car crashes increases 26% compared with the other months of the year, according to data released by Safe Kids Worldwide, a global non-profit organization working to prevent childhood injury through research, community outreach, legislative advocacy and media awareness campaigns. 

Rainfall above normal for the year

HAMILTON - Before the rain that fell on June 5, weather recorder Eddy Pearce’s rain gauge in Hamilton went 22 days without seeing any measurable rain. But that was no reason to be alarmed, Pearce said. Rainfall is above normal this year.
“You better believe it,” Pearce said on June 4, “if it don’t rain anymore for the month of June and July, we’d still be above normal.”
Pearce said average rainfall totals are 26.91 inches for the first five months of a year.

Safeplace awarded nearly $2.7 million

HAMILTON -  Gov. Kay Ivey has awarded nearly $2.7 million to ensure that victims of domestic violence in six northwest Alabama counties are afforded adequate care and support to help them escape difficult situations and overcome their ordeals.

The grant to Safeplace Inc. of Florence will provide shelter and other services for victims in Marion, Winston, Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale and Lawrence counties.
“Domestic violence is a reprehensible crime that affects every segment of society, but the hurt for victims is the same,” said Ivey.

Marion County awarded $12,015 for emergency food, shelter programs

HAMILTON - Marion County has been awarded federal funds made available through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/Federal Emergency Management Agency under the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program.
Marion County has been chosen to receive $12,015 to supplement emergency food and shelter programs in the county.
The application period begins today (Wednesday, June 19) and closes on Wednesday, July 3.

Flag drop box to honor Loftis unveiled in Winfield

WINFIELD - A drop box for old and tattered flags was unveiled during a ceremony in front of the Winfield City Hall on Tuesday, June 4, to honor Danny Loftis. 
Loftis, who passed away on Jan. 2, was remembered by community members as a veteran who had great respect for the American Flag.
“Danny would keep an eye on all the flags around town and make sure they were in top-notch shape,” said Winfield Mayor Randy Price. “He would collect all the old and tattered flags from around town and give them proper disposal.”

 

Estes lone abstention on education budget

MONTGOMERY - Marion County Rep. Tracy Estes, R-Winfield, was the lone legislator to abstain from approving the Fiscal Year 2020 Education Trust Fund (ETF) budget.
The Alabama House of Representatives took its final vote on the ETF on Friday, May 31. The budget passed 102-0.
The House District 17 representative told the Journal Record that his abstention was due to him not being provided information regarding Bevill State Community College (BSCC)-Hamilton Campus as requested.

Consumed by Fire to perform at Pastime Theatre

WINFIELD - The contemporary Christian group Consumed by Fire is set to engulf the Pastime Theatre stage on Saturday, June 15, at 7 p.m.
The group, composed of three brothers--Caleb, Josh and Jordan Ward--began in 2010 and hail from Oklahoma.
The group is a musically-inventive Southern pop/rock band that combines their church roots with an eclectic array of influences distilled into a sound that is uniquely their own. 

Pirate Night features silent auction on June 21

WINFIELD - The Winfield Pirates football booster club will sponsor its annual silent auction during Pirate Night on Friday, June 21.
The meal begins at 6 p.m. and lasts until 7 p.m. with the auction ending at 8 p.m. The doors will open at 5:30 p.m.
Proceeds from the event will be used by the club to pay for program expenses for the coming football season.

 

Unemployment in county drops

The number of people in Marion County without jobs continued a downward decline for the year as the number reached a low of 517 or 4.0% in April, according to data released by the Alabama Department of Labor.
In March, the number of unemployed people in Marion county was 554 or 4.3%. The number of unemployed people in the county in January 2019 was 630 from a total civilian labor force of 12,447 or 5.1%.

BSCC-Hamilton students awarded at SkillsUSA


Matt Jones (middle) of BSCC-Hamilton is shown holding the SkillsUSA State Champion banner after winning first-place in Diesel Equipment Technology at the 2019 SkillUSA State Championship held on April 15-17, at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center in Birmingham.

HAMILTON -  Students from Bevill State Community College-Hamilton have successfully competed in the 2019 SkillsUSA State Championship held on Monday through Wednesday, April 15 - 17, at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center in Birmingham.
Students that were awarded first-place in their category are eligible to compete at the 2019 National SkillUSA Leadership Conference and Skills Championships to be held in Louisville, Ky. on June 24 - 28.

 

April tax collection shows mixed results

HAMILTON - In April, Marion County’s sales tax for education generated a record high for the year. However, the amount was significantly lower compared to last April’s numbers. Marion County Superintendent of Education Ann West told the Marion County Board of Education during its meeting on Thursday, May 16, that the county collected $148,082 in April. The collection was more than $15,000 higher than March, when $132,997 was collected. However, it was $12,166 less than April 2018’s record, which showed $160,248 generated.

148 students awarded splash pad passes, pizza for reading scores


Erica Byrd, daughter of Justin and Emy Byrd, earned her way into the HES Accelerated Reader 100 Point Club. Her favorite books are “Geronimo Stilton” books because she says they have adventures and are exciting.

HAMILTON - Students at Hamilton Elementary School (HES) exceeded expectations in reading skills for the 2018-2019 school year.
HES recognized 148 first- through fourth-graders with a pizza party on Tuesday, May 14, for topping the 100-point mark in the school’s Accelerated Reader program.
HES Library Media Specialist Brittany McRae said that the number of students who achieved this goal is “exceptional.”
“Our students ROCKED reading this year,” McRae said.

 

Woman charged with issuing terrorist threat to court office


Winfield Police Officer Dustin Webb locks the door to the 25th Judicial District Court services office after obtaining a list of persons scheduled for drug tests on Thursday, May 30.

 WINFIELD -  A woman scheduled for a court-mandated drug test was arrested and charged with making a terrorist threat after calling in a bomb threat to the 25th Judicial District Court Services office in Winfield on Thursday, May 30.
Nancy Kathleen Smith Busbee, 59, Winfield, was apprehended without incident at her residence, 201 Freedom Street, at 6:22 p.m. Her arrest was made only three hours after she allegedly made the bomb threat that drew response from multiple law enforcement agencies and brought a halt to all traffic in downtown Winfield.

 

Over 400 weapons confiscated at courthouse since April

HAMILTON -  Chris Hargrove, vice president at Muscle Shoals-based Dynamic Securities Inc., addressed the Marion County Commission with updates about security guards during a regular session meeting on Monday, May 20, in Hamilton.
During his address, Hargrove informed the commissioners that the two security guards assigned to the Marion County courthouse have confiscated over 452 weapons in the past two months.

Grant monies mark another step towards Love’s

MONTGOMERY - The City of Hamilton is another step closer to a new Love’s Travel Stop and Country Store.
On Thursday, May 30, Gov. Kay Ivey announced she was awarding Hamilton with a $150,000 Community Block Grant to assist with infrastructure upgrades for the incoming Love’s.
State Rep. Tracy Estes, R-Winfield, announced on Facebook on Friday, May 24, that the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is also awarding $150,000 to the city for the project.

Now well past the initial shock, Estes has gone to work


Hamilton High School’s Natalie Robertson led members of the Alabama House of Representatives in the Pledge of Allegiance to open the session on Thursday, May 7, in Montgomery. Robertson was joined in the chambers by her mother, Denise. The Robertsons were the guest of House District 17 Rep. Tracy Estes, R-Winfield. While in the State Capitol, the Robertsons toured the Alabama State House and visited with various elected officials.

The state’s gasoline tax had just been raised, and Gov. Kay Ivey was being interviewed by a reporter from WSFA-TV when she said something that caught the attention of state Rep. Tracy Estes, R-Winfield. 
“Well, all the freshmen who ran for the House and Senate were indeed briefed on the need for an infrastructure bill well before they were elected, and they were vetted by the House and Senate leadership, and if they were not for increasing the gas tax for infrastructure, they were not encouraged to run,” Ivey said. 

‘I’ve heard enough talk’


David Thornell (left) President and CEO of Northwest Alabama Economic Development Agency is shown addressing the Marion County Commission during a regular session meeting on Monday, May 13, in Hamilton.

HAMILTON -  David Thornell, Northwest Alabama Economic Development Agency (EDA) president and chief executive officer addressed Marion County commissioners about the current projects the EDA is working on during a regular session on Monday, May 14.
“Our unemployment rates have been less each year since we started in 2010 with (Northwest EDA) and we’ve seen growth,” said Thornell.

Principals review school monies

HAMILTON - Revenues from Hamilton’s alcohol tax are improving education in the city’s schools, especially in technology.
Hamilton principals Steven Deavours (high school), Norman Ballard (middle school) and Lynda Hall (elementary school) met with the Hamilton City Council during a work session on Wednesday, May 15, to discuss how tax monies were used during the 2018-2019 school year.
One year ago, education supporters appeared before the Hamilton City Council, pleading for the city’s leaders to help increase local funding for education.

Overpaid gas taxes refunded

HAMILTON - A local business owner will be reimbursed for overpaid taxes.
The Hamilton City Council voted unanimously at its meeting on Monday, May 20, to refund Hamilton Marathon (Harper’s Junction) Owner Vikash Rohella $4,403.83 due to him overpaying on gas taxes since his store opened in 2016.
Rohella recently led a push for Marion County’s legislative delegation to carry a bill to the Legislature for his store located at 26211 Highway 43, near the Shiloh Community, to be annexed within the Hamilton City Limits in order to sell alcohol.